Reporting suicide and self-harm

Topic Selected: Self-harm and Suicide

General Article icon Type: General Article

If you are tasked with reporting about suicide or self-harm it is really important to do this responsibly as studies have shown that some reporting can lead to copycat behaviour.

  • Focus on feelings, not behaviours. Try to report underlying issues or motivations behind the self-harm, as opposed to detailing the behaviour itself. Graphic descriptions can be used as tips by people who may be predisposed to self-harming.
  • Don’t be explicit about methods, e.g. it may be okay to mention taking an overdose, but avoid detailing what substance was taken, how many tablets, etc. This could be used as a tip by someone experiencing suicidal ideations.
  • Avoid coverage of self-harming behaviours by celebrities. It could glamourise or prompt imitation behaviour.
  • Remember the correct term is to ‘complete’ suicide, not ‘commit’. ‘Commit’ is used when describing criminality, and implies judgement or persecution.

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